Some household items that contain lead-contaminated dust hazards include:

  • imported vinyl mini-blinds
  • imported and antique toys and furniture

Lead In Mini-Blinds

Many vinyl mini-blinds manufactured in Mexico and Asia, which are imported and sold in the United States, contain lead. The lead in mini-blinds is used in the plastic as a stabilizer for rigidity and for color retention. These non-glossy, vinyl blinds eventually deteriorate from exposure to sunlight. During this deterioration, lead-contaminated dust forms on the surface of the blinds. This leaded dust can be a hazard to children if they put the blinds in their mouths, or if they put their hands on the blinds and the widow sills and then into their mouths.

You can test for lead in mini-blinds with a home test kit, such as Lead Check Swabs; Know Lead; Lead Alert; or Enzone Products. Follow the manufacturers’ directions on these home test kits. The disposable tests turn pink when lead is present.

If your blinds contain lead, you can take them back to the place you purchased them for a refund. After removing the lead-contaminated blinds from your home, clean the window components, window sills and exposed surrounding areas with a lead-specific detergent. Replace the leaded mini-blinds with blinds that specify that they are lead free. 

Lead-Based Paint On Toys and Furniture

It is important to note that furniture and toys that are not manufactured in the United States may not conform to lead standards. Also old or antique toys and furniture may have been painted with leaded paint. Test family heirlooms such as antique cribs, chairs and toys for leaded paint. Do not let children sleep in, play with, or chew on old furniture and toys that may be painted with lead-based paint. Call the Consumer Product Safety Commission (800-638-2772) for recorded messages about product recalls.